Started a thread so we could collect any important or notable Senior Bowl news!
Started a thread so we could collect any important or notable Senior Bowl news!
LSU OL Herman Johnson measured 6'7/382 at the Senior Bowl weigh-in.
Jeff Otah is apparently a poor man's Herman Johnson. The fifth-year senior was not dinged for looking too soft in the body, which is amazing. Johnson will likely convert to right tackle in the pros after playing left guard at LSU.
Cal Poly WR Ramses Barden measured in at 6'6/227 at Monday's Senior Bowl weigh-in. He also had bigger hands than any senior receiver.
Cal Poly's best prospect since Chris Gocong, Barden also had the longest arms (33 3/4 inches) of any receiver at the event. Only USC's Patrick Turner (33 inches) came close. Quan Cosby of Texas' 30-inch arms were shortest.
Senior Bowl practice report, Day 1
By Tony Pauline, TFYDraft.com
The 2009 Senior Bowl kicked off in earnest Monday morning, as 104 players weighed in for NFL scouts and then participated in practice. Several high-profile players are taking part in this year's event -- one of the most important weeks of scouting leading up to April's NFL Draft. And a number of those well-known names started the week slowly. Here are the players who helped themselves during the Senior Bowl's first day and those who did not fare as well:
BJ Raji/DT/Boston College: The Eagles' massive interior lineman was almost unblockable throughout the day in the North's practice. Raji displayed a very quick first step off the snap, which gave offensive linemen fits. He made it harder on his opponents by swatting blockers to the ground as they were left wondering how he got by them so easily.
Shawn Nelson/TE/Southern Mississippi: Nelson looked formidable during weigh-ins this morning, then took his athletic frame onto the field and impressed scouts. He's fluid moving around the field and fast -- very fast. Nelson was constantly beating opponents in the secondary and made a number of good plays in the secondary.
Cullen Harper/QB/Clemson: The Tigers quarterback was much maligned during the season and at one point was benched for poor play. On Monday, he showed the reason why scouts were so high on him coming into the season. Harper displayed poise, threw with accuracy and made good decisions in the pocket. He tossed several nice deep passes, connecting with USC's Patrick Turner for a long gainer of 40 yards in one instance.
Darius Butler/CB/Connecticut: Butler stood head and shoulders above all other cornerbacks from the North squad in Day 1. The former Husky was very smooth in coverage and used his athleticism and size to deny opponents a chance at the ball. None of the North wide receivers was able to shake Butler throughout the entire practice.
Rashad Jennings/RB/Liberty: Jennings is the top small school player in Mobile this week and proved as much in Day 1. His 234-pound frame looked impressive this morning during weigh-ins, then Jennings looked athletic and fast on the field at practice. He has a burst through the hole and looks frighteningly powerful running in the open field. Jennings also caught the ball well and stood out in blocking drills.
Mike Thomas/WR/Arizona: Scouts compare Thomas to All-Pro Steve Smith in style and the Arizona senior was one of the top receivers on the field on Monday. He ran crisp pass routes and had cornerbacks twisting in the wind in their attempt to stay with him on the field. Thomas also displayed solid hand and natural pass catching skills. His size (5-foot-8) will discourage teams from using an early selection on Thomas, but he proved today he can play with the best.
Ashlee Palmer/LB/Mississippi: Palmer was a bit of a surprise invitation to the Senior Bowl yet proved Monday he is worthy of a spot in the event. Palmer practiced with a lot of explosion, quickness and strength. He also aggressively chased the action and worked hard in every single aspect.
Rey Maualuga/LB/USC: Maualuga looked rusty today, both physically and mentally. He's not in the best of shape and was very hesitant to make decisions on the field. Maualuga seemed to get his bearings as the day proceeded, but his play was not reminiscent of a potential top-five pick.
Pat White/QB/West Virginia: Scouts wanted to give White a chance to prove he can play quarterback at the next level, but the early returns have not been positive. White struggled throwing the ball. White was not accurate, could not drive deep passes even though he was throwing with the wind; and at this point, he looks like a college signal caller who may be better off at a different position in the NFL.
Graham Harrell/QB/Texas Tech: Harrell displayed good mechanics in Day 1 lining up under center after taking most of his snaps in college out of the shotgun. He was also relatively accurate. The problem for Harrell is poor arm strength as his passes had relatively no zip and he was unable to drive deep passes.
William Moore/S/Missouri: Moore has been labeled as a run defending safety with poor coverage skills and did nothing to shake that reputation on Monday. He struggled moving laterally and at one point was left lying on the ground after attempting to cover a receiver from the North squad.
Senior Bowl: Trench warfare with Mack, Raji
The Sacramento Bee
January 19, 2009
NFL scouts say it's important not to make snap judgments on the first day of Senior Bowl practices. But, hey, I'm not a scout. Here are some observations from the opening day in Mobile, Ala. The North and South squads practiced at the same time in different locations. I decided to stick with the North, which has three quarterbacks: Rhett Bomar out of Sam Houston State, Nathan Brown from Central Arkansas and Graham Harrell from Texas Tech. It was very windy in the afternoon and all three struggled with their deep pass. Bomar, it seemed, had the best arm out of the three.
Everyone is talking about Boston College's B.J. Raji, and for good reason. Raji measured 6 Ĺ feet today and weighed 334 pounds. He's built like an oak stump, but he has excellent quickness for a guy that size. He typically had his way with offensive linemen today. The only guy who was able to handle Raji was Cal center Alex Mack, who was easily the best offensive linemen on the North squad and who was considerably better than Oregon's Max Unger, whom many publications have rated higher than Mack. Mack got the better of Raji during team drills, at one point standing him up and driving him backward.
Another B.C. defensive tackle, Ron Brace, also looked good. In fact, the North squad seems to have a lot of decent defensive linemen. Illinois' Will Davis showed good quickness and was getting a lot of praise from his position coach. Northern Illinois' Larry English looked good off the edge. English was used solely as a defensive end. Another sack master, Virginia's Clint Sintim, played linebacker throughout.
At receiver, Penn State's Derrick Williams seemed to be the most athletic. Williams made two excellent sideline catches on deep passes that the wind knocked out of the air. Overall, it was hard to assess the wideout play today as the quarterbacks were less than stellar in the wind.
The Bengals' coaching staff has Cal linebacker Zack Follett playing "Mike" linebacker, a position he hasn't played since college. At 231 pounds, Follett seems a little light for Mike. The new position also has him going against college teammate Mack, something he never did at Berkeley. Said Follett: "I was blessed. I always stayed on the outside and never had to face Mack. That was good news for me."
Day One HighlightsÖ
By Jon Cozart, GBN Chief Scout
Day one at the Senior Bowl has come to a close. It was a beautiful day here in Mobile while much of the country has been enduring a frigid climate lately. Hopefully weíll have a full week of great weather before the game on Saturday.
Monday morning started out with the weigh-in and if physical build has anything to do with who wins the big game my money is on the South. The South squad really passes the eyeball test and has considerably more studs than the North. However, one guy on the South Team that didnít conform to the rest of his peers and showed up at 382 pounds was the mountainous man Herman Johnson. The room was relatively quiet for the seventy minute or so weigh-in with the exception of the thirty seconds after Johnsonís weight was announced to the room. Collective whispers filled the room as Johnson blew away Phil Loadholt, who was the second heaviest, by almost 40 pounds. Loadholt tipped the scales at 343 pounds and although he was bulky he didnít appear to be soft. He carried the weight well and will probably be asked to drop a few pounds once heís drafted, but he wonít have to lose much as the bulk fit his 6-8 frame better than expected. He at least assuaged my concerns about his weight. Here are a few others that seemed to stand out either positively or negatively at the weigh-in:
Clemson QB Cullen Harper: Just looked like a guy
Liberty RB Rashad Jennings: Thick and muscular
USC MLB Rey Maualuga: Big legs; soft torso
Alabama TE Travis McCall: Short and overweight
SMU P Thomas Morstead: Thick build for a punter
Tennessee OG Anthony Parker: Gut hangs over his waist; looked soft
Georgia Tech DT Vance Walker: Soft gut
West Virginia QB Pat White: Has descent muscle tone but lean; not built like a QB.
Alabama QB John Parker Wilson: Very little muscle tone
Cal Poly WR Ramses Barden: At 6-6, 227 looked like he belonged; Tall and Strong
Boston College DT Ron Brace: Looked fat
Missouri DT Ziggy Hood: Really stood out. Barrel chest with thick legs, but still a very lean 298
Oregon State T/G Andy Levitre: Soft gut
Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew: Good looking kid
Boston College DT B..J. Raji: Soft belly, but big legs and huge backside
Virginia LB Clint Sintim: Huge legs that look like they belong to a 325-pounder
Monday Afternoon North Practice: Both the North and South teams practiced at the same time today and I chose to go to the North practice. Practice only lasted 90 minutes and there were multiple drills going on so I didnít get a look at everyone. Iíd like to get a better look at everyone before I offer an opinion on someone, but thatís no fun for our readers so here is what caught my eye today. Western Michigan DB Louis Delmas was agile and confident today and more than held his own. Missouri DB William Moore fell once during a drill for defensive backs, but looked big and fast before that so weíll see if he can recover from that stumble. Oregon DB Patrick Chung dropped a ball today and didnít show much agility to further hurt his stock. DB Mike Mickens of Cincinnati didnít look as quick as his teammate DB DeAngleo Smith and was burned for a touchdown when Washington State WR Brandon Gibson just ran past him. As you can tell I spent most of my time watching the defensive backs and a bit of the wide receivers. However, I was really impressed in the short amount of time I watched Boston College DT B.J. Raji. Tomorrow Iíll definitely spend more time watching him as he blew up the interior linemen in front of him multiple times. Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew made a tough catch with a defender bumping him all over the field. Cal Poly WR Ramses Barden takes awhile to get to top speed, but the kid is a specimen at 6-6, 227. Oklahoma WR Juaquin Iglesias runs a little unusual and had a drop and a fumble today. The former number one high school recruit in the nation, WR Derrick Williams of Penn State, showed he shouldnít be overlooked as he seemed to stop on a dime when going full speed and beat DBs deep on multiple occasions. He had my eye more than any other receiver today for sure. Virginia Tech DB Macho Harris looked a step behind his peers today and was beat deep by Ohio State WR Brian Robiskie.
Expect the action to really start to heat up Tuesday as both teams will be in full pads. We'll have full reports on the North practice in the morning and the South's afternoon session later in the day.
From what I saw of the limited NFLN broadcast of the Day One North Team practice, this is what I came away with (that I can remember)...
-QB: On display were Graham Harrell (Texas Tech), Rhett Bomar (Sam Houston), and Nathan Brown (Central Arkansas). The fact that none of them measured in any taller than 6'2" hurt the group. Of the clips I saw, none of them really did much to embarass themselves, but I thought Harrell was the most impressive of the three. Coming from a shotgun spread offense, he didn't look like he had many problems dropping back when simulating an under center snap.
-RB: Didn't get to see much of these guys, but Kory Sheets was the star. Looked really good coming out of the backfield as a receiver, which makes sense seeing as how he's averaged 31 catches a year over the last three years. He stood out on two particular patterns and wasn't caught on either of them.
-WR: Ramses Barden is a giant out there, and from what I saw on NFLN, he looked pretty capable. Measured in at 6'6" and 227 pounds and had to be interfered with by smaller corners in order to be stopped. Derrick Williams showed good ability adjusting to the pass when he had to change shoulders on a corner route while being covered by Darius Butler. Juaquin Igleasias looked crisp with his routes from the clips I saw. Brooks Foster ran a couple of nice routes and looked solid. Fiesta Bowl hero Quan Cosby measured in at a disappointing 5'8".
-TE: Brandon Pettigrew was one of two guys they really focused on, and is considered to be the best TE prospect this year. 6'5" and 257 pounds, he really appears to be the total package when it comes to size, receiving, and blocking ability. Connor Barwin earned recognition for Cincy this year as a defensive end who just switched last summer from tight end. But apparently there weren't any DE spots open for him, so he's playing this week at tight end. Scouts seem to view him as a DE/LB, but the few times I actually saw him catch the ball he looked solid.
-OT: Disappointed that Monroe and Jason Smith aren't here. Didn't get to see Oher. Phil Loadholt saw time on both the left and the right side, and didn't do anything to convince me he isn't destined to be a RT. Looked good once he got his hands on the defender but seemed to have a problem now and then with sealing the edge. None of the other OTs I saw really stood out; broadcast focus was more on the interior. So moving on...
-OG/C: Kraig Urbik was hot and cold in the clips I saw. But he was the only lineman I saw who countered a devastating spin move from Evander Hood, so good for him. The reports I've read elsewhere about Alex Mack have been good, but the clips I saw showed him at LG rather than center and he was losing ground to both BC tackles at times. I didn't see much from Unger, so I'll probably have to trust those other reports on those two.
-DL: This seemed to be one of the focuses of the broadcast. I think Iowa's Mitch King came away looking the best IMO; he was simply unblockable. Only measured in at 6'1" but he was a homing missile into the backfield on nearly every play I saw. Close behind him was Evander Hood, who really caught some interior blockers off guard with a great spin move. Both BC tackles looked good. Raji got consistent penetration in one on one drills, and Brace simply pushed back anyone in front of him most of the time. Michigan's Tim Jamison flashed some nice moves.
-LB: Didn't see much of them, but what I saw wasn't all that impressive. McKillop seemed to have some problems staying with Kort Sheets in coverage crossing the field; still wonder if he's a great college LB who simply lacks the athleticism to be more than a two-down defender at the next level. The only other LB I got a good look at was Tyone McKenzie and he didn't blow me away. Had to hold Pettigrew on a route over the middle, and Pettigrew still made the catch. Took a bad angle trying to contain a Sheets reception in the flat which went for a big gain.
-DB: Saw nothing of the safeties. Darius Butler looked crisp with a pretty good back pedal. Watching him go against Derrick Williams was fun; Butler seemed to be right there with Williams from what I saw. Mike Mickens must still be feeling his knee injury; he got burned on a go route by Brandon Gibson (I believe). Just didn't look like he could close after being beat. Victor Harris got some screen time but didn't stand out that much to me; not sure if that's good or bad.
I've got the DVR set to record both practices and the recap show tomorrow, so hopefully I'll have some more notes coming.
Nick, I thought you were clear on the plan of trying to keep Ramses Barden under the radar! (also some nice comments on Mike Thomas who I probably have too low as the Rams 7th round pick).
Big props for Mack tonight on NFL Talk (satelite radio) hosted by Tim Ryan and Pat Kerwin. Estimated he could be a late 1st round early 2nd round pick.
Unger on the other hand has dropped quite a bit saying he may be as low as a 5th to 6th round pick.
It was a beautiful, sunny day in Mobile this morning for the North team practice, but it was somewhat cold and very windy - not quarterback weather. Scouts and positional coaches roamed around following their assigned positions and you could really feel how much pressure is riding on these practices. And let me say, Lindsay Soto is much hotter in person than on the NFL Network. I also saw ESPN reporter Michael Smith. I'll have to catch up with him later in the week. On to what I saw at practice today:
Brandon Gibson is a player I had my eye on a lot today. He wasn't very productive on a soft team at Washington State, but a West Coast scout told me he is head and shoulders the best receiver in the Pac-10. Then, I asked him if he has ever heard of Damian Williams and he got pretty quiet. Gibson was very fluid and really sunk his hips on comeback routes. He showed consistent hands and is really making a name for himself. I think he could be this year's Eddie Royal, and if he keeps at it in practice, there is no doubt his name will be called in the second round. He is a smart player who flipped Patrick Chung's hips completely around on a double move.
Derrick Williams is a player I have been extremely frustrated with on film, and after today, I just think he needs to make a full time move to corner. He displayed, by far, the worst ball skills of any receiver out here, even muffing a few punts. His routes are lazy and he doesn't put much effort into selling them. The natural receiving skills just aren't there, but can he fly in the open field. Yeah, he can run a 4.3, but when it gets down to it, this is football. I really have a hard time liking this player. The receiving coach was really dogging him today and I can see why.
The safety/weakside linebacker Nic Harris put on a show today. He was very aggressive and is extremely athletic when you move him to linebacker. He looked the part, and I think he has the frame to put on 10 pounds without losing much speed. He was instinctive, disciplined, and maintained his gaps. I liked his initial acceleration and agility. A lot of the people I talked to felt like he really stood out today, so I think it I safe to say his stock is slowly rising.
The quarterbacks down here are absolutely terrible to say the least. Nathan Brown can put some zip on the ball, but he was inaccurate on many of his throws. Rhett Bomar has a three-quarters release and it gets too low at times, causing his throws to sail wide right. Graham Harrell fumbled the ball at least three times from what I saw under center and the quarterback coaches really can't like that. He put great touch on the football today, but struggled with the deep out. Someone needs to step up or they will all be late second-day picks.
Everyone's MVP today is Western Michigan product Louis Delmas. He put a huge hit on Ramses Barden, knocking him off his feet and doing it with authority. He was always around the football and displayed great range and instincts. I talked with Chris Steuber of Scout.com and he really felt Delmas is a pure free safety. Delmas' stock is skyrocketing and Taylor Mays returning to USC really helps him.
In the 1v1 battles going on at the North end zone, Ziggy Hood continued to dominate, but not if Kraig Urbik had anything to say about it. Urbik handled Hood's spin well and stood him up and displayed a nasty demeanor. B.J. Raji continues to impress, but Ron Brace looked really sluggish today in defensive line drills. He just lacks the agility and quickness to be a three technique and the more I see him, the more I feel like he is strictly a 3-4 nose tackle. Alex Mack pulled away in the center battle with Max Unger and he displayed a lot of strength and great technique. I really liked what I saw in Andy Levitre as he destroyed Alex Magee. Playing left tackle this year really helps his pass protection resume at guard and he is quickly becoming one of my favorite interior linemen since Duke Robinson dropped out this week.
I can't remember the last time I saw a better blocking/receiving tight end ever since I looked at Brandon Pettigrew's tape last summer. He really is nasty and loves to block. It's fun to watch. Unfortunately, he struggled getting off the line of scrimmage in passing drills, but he is a solid enough receiver to be taken in the first round.
Tyrone McKenzie is a player I feel is one of the more underrated linebackers in the country and he has a unique set of physical tools that is going untalked about. He showed very good range today in zone coverage and does a great job of anticipating and pursuing.
This is the second day William Moore has struggled somewhat in 11v11s. He looks sluggish and unnatural dropping back, and some people I have talked to don't feel he can play strong safety in the pros. Rashad Johnson reportedly had a great practice yesterday, Delmas is a hot prospect, and Patrick Chung flashed some plays, so if Moore doesn't step up soon, he could see his stock fall a little.
The receiver who has generated a ton of buzz this week among scouts and the media is Cal Poly product Ramses Barden. Barden displayed some consistent hands today, making a difficult grab on the sideline, but I am just not sold on him as a route runner. He looks awkward coming out of his breaks and a little slow off the line of scrimmage. Maybe I just watch him at the wrong times today, but it doesn't bode well if you can't separate from the better corners in the country.
Cincinnati defensive back DeAngelo Smith showed a lot of athleticism today, but he should have come up with at least two interceptions. His hands are not soft at all, but the good thing is he was in position to make plays and showed solid anticipation.
Scott Wright is the President and Founder of NFL Draft Countdown, and he's attending the Senior Bowl again this year and reporting back on each day's events. His reports can be found at his website...
Scott has taken time out in the past to come to the Clan Ram for hour-long draft chats, an event we hope to schedule again in the next few months for the third consecutive year.
Because Scott is a special friend to the Clan, I would ask that we link to his website and give him the extra traffic rather than copy and paste his information here. I know that contradicts the PM that Dez just sent everyone, but for NFLDC I think we can make an exception.
Senior Bowl practice report, Day 2
By Tony Pauline, Special to SI.com, TFYDraft.com
The second day of practice at the Senior Bowl saw an increase in intensity and performance (Day 1 Report). Players are leaving final impressions on NFL decision makers as to their level of skill on the football field. As a result, a number of prospects have cemented better draft grades for themselves heading towards April while others have watched their stock move in the other direction. Here's a look at Tuesday's results.
Derrick Williams/WR/Penn State: Williams' vaunted athleticism was on display as he established himself as the best receiver on the field. Williams displayed speed, effective route-running skills and reliable hands. He beat defenders for the deep reception or physically beat them down to make the underneath reception. There's no doubt scouts were excited by Williams, who showed signs of pulling it all togher.
Alex Magee/DT/Purdue: Magee was a late arrival to the Senior Bowl after a communications mishap but made up for lost time Tuesday. The Purdue product was impossible to block and consistently got penetration behind the line of scrimmage, beating blockers with quickness as well as power.
Trevor Canfield/OG/Cincinnati: Canfield has a reputation for being a nasty, fierce competitor and he showed why Tuesday. The former Bearcat starter was dominant at the point and handled almost everyone he faced. He's not only strong but also mean; he never let up. More than once he continued to play after the whistle, getting an extra shove in after the play had ended.
Louis Delmas/S/Western Michigan: Delmas has been the best safety on the field and the feisty defender consistently put himself in a position to make plays on the ball all day. He throws his body around the field in an effort to stop ball handlers and delivered a number of blows that made scouts take notice. Delmas was effective in run defense and against the pass.
Coye Francies/CB/San Jose State: Francies is another defensive back whose aggressive play impressed scouts. Francies knocked several defenders to the ground Tuesday with hard hits, which got a loud response from the crowd of approximately 1,000. More importantly he was effective in coverage, displaying top ball skills, which scouts wanted to see.
David Veikune/DE/Hawaii: Veikune has worked hard the past two days and improved his game. The former Warrior was tenacious in run defense and also flew off the edge as a pass rusher. Several of his battles against top-rated left tackle Michael Oher ended up in his favor. In one instance he had the potential first-round pick twisted like a pretzel as Oher failed to protect the quarterback from Veikune's speed.
Peria Jerry/DT/Mississippi: Jerry is standing out to NFL decision makers not only as a football player but also a leader on the field. He has displayed good quickness off the snap and really pushes the pocket as an interior defender. Jerry's ability to shoot gaps and disrupt offenses has been apparent to all at the Senior Bowl.
Alphonso Smith/CB/Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons' corner was yet another defensive back who stood out Tuesday. Smith looked fast, physical and very instinctive all day. He battled against larger receivers and his 5-foot-9-inch frame never backed down. Smith defended a number of passes and played like a starting NFL cornerback.
DeAngelo Smith/CB/Cincinnati: Smith possesses the athleticism to play at the next level but was very hesitant and unsure of himself Tuesday. He consistently lost a half step to opponents off the line of scrimmage and gave up several long receptions and an even larger number of underneath routes.
Nathan Brown/QB/Central Arkansas: The small-school passer has struggled so far and done nothing to improve his status in the eyes of NFL decision makers. Brown throws with a three-quarter delivery and the result is poor accuracy and passes that scatter. His inability to throw the deep pass Tuesday resulted in a number of receivers slowing up in their routes and waiting for the ball to arrive.
John Parker Wilson/QB/Alabama: Wilson was another passer who struggled Tuesday. He showed a weak arm and was unable to get speed on passes and under threw a number of receivers who were open down the field. Late in the day Wilson threw a terrible interception into triple coverage.
Herman Johnson/OL/LSU: Johnson has lined up at both his natural position of guard as well as right tackle. His size (6-feet-7, 382 pounds) has not transitioned into the ability to dominate the opposition. Johnson's immobility is obvious to all and at one point he was knocked to the ground due to his inability to move. Much was expected from Johnson this week but he has not responded and his draft stock is plummeting.
Draft Dish: Senior Bowl Day 2 observations
Posted: January 20, 2009
War Room Scouts
MOBILE, Ala. -- Day 2 of practice at the Senior Bowl brought players to the field, with NFL coaches and executives on hand to evaluate their performance.
Russ Lande and his team of former NFL scouts provide news, notes and observations from Tuesday's Senior Bowl practices:
Alex Mack, C, California
Definitely looked the part in uniform with thick lower body. Showed good quickness out of stance to get into blocking position fast and gets hands up and onto DT quickly. Did a good job overall, but was overmatched and driven backwards by B.J. Raji one time.
Max Unger, C, Oregon
Struggled with strength as he was jolted and driven backward numerous times by Raji and Ron Brace. Did not look like he is strong enough to handle NFL defensive tackles.
Kraig Urbik, G, Wisconsin
Did good job anchoring against defensive tackles. Gave up no ground and kept his man on the line of scrimmage.
Rey Maualuga, MLB, Southern Cal
Showed good playing speed and does a good job using hands to take on and shed blocks quickly. Displayed natural instincts and a feel for the ball. Was consistently around the ball.
Senior Bowl Tuesday Recap
Posted By Wes Bunting
January 21, 2009 @ 8:24 am
Day two of the Senior Bowl practices featured the first dual practice sessions of the week, with the North taking the morning slot and the South the afternoon session. The  style of practices between the teams today couldnít have been more different. The Bengalsí coaching staff did a much better job allowing the individual talent on their North roster to excel, mostly by making their practice schedule more one-on-one-oriented. The South squad, led by the Jacksonville coaching staff, was much more team-oriented and looked to be doing a better job preparing the South squad to be more successful as a team for the game on Saturday by focusing more on seven-on-seven and 11-on-11 drills.
The player of the day had to be Southern Mississippi TE Shawn Nelson. Nelson is a long, angular tight end prospect who looks like a thin tackle when he is asked to block. He displayed great feet and lateral mobility on the edge and had enough power to knock MLB Rey Maualuga off balance and drive him to the ground. During the passing phase of practice, Nelson was consistently able to separate down the field and create big plays by plucking balls away form his body. He has been even more impressive than Oklahoma State TE Brandon Pettigrew and with a strong week could be headed straight for the first round.
Wake Forest CB Alphonso Smith had a great practice today. He is a very coordinated, fluid athlete with great burst in and out of his breaks. He did a great job reading routes and breaking on the ball. He always puts himself in position to make plays and is very difficult for the South receivers to get any kind of separation from.
With all the love being handed to Boston College DT B.J. Raji here, itís time we give some love to the No. 2 DT on our board, Peria Jerry. Jerry had an impressive performance during 11-on-11 drills, consistently showcasing his burst, power and technique to get off the ball and into the backfield. On one play, he did a great job firing off the snap, splitting the double team and finding the ball instantly. Another guy who is really putting on an impressive performance.
Still Need WorkÖ
QB Pat White has come a long way as a passer from last year, but after todayís practice, itís clear he still has a long way to go. For such a gifted athlete, he looks mechanical in his release and footwork. He struggled going through progressions quickly and didnít display much of a feel for identifying linebackers who were dropping into coverage. All that, combined with his lack of arm strength, means White may need to start thinking about a transition to WR.
OT Troy Kropog really struggled on the edge during 11-on-11 drills. He lacks the power to hold the point of attack, which allowed every area of his game to be picked apart by Tennessee DE Robert Ayers. Kropog not only struggled reaching the corner against Ayers, he failed redirecting on his inside move as well as standing his ground on the bull rush. Kropog needs to regroup and prove to scouts he has the feet to play left tackle because he showed a lack of power to handle the right side.
Speaking of Robert Ayers, he has displayed a much better first step than anticipated this week. This allows him to be even more dangerous using his power, technique and suddenness on his pass rush. He was a real gem today and is starting to move up draft boards rapidly in this weak DE class.
Ole Miss OT Michael Oher has been doing his best to dispel any notion about not having the type of power or drive to move people in the run game. During 11-on-11 drills, Oher showcased quick feet and balance to get around on reach blocks with the drive and hand placement to eliminate DEs on the edge. He took several ends to the cleaners, including Richmondís Lawrence Sidbury, USCís Kyle Moore and Hawaiiís David Veikune.
Oherís teammate, LB Ashley Palmer, has also performed well this week. Heís an explosive, quick-twitch athlete with good range and flexibility in coverage. He did an excellent job getting a deep drop into zone and soaring vertically to pick off a Pat White pass. Heís the kind of guy who would be an ideal fit as a cover-two linebacker.
Mississippi State FS Derek Pegues showcased good burst and closing speed at corner. Pegues was the nationís top cornerback prospect coming out of high school and demonstrated he still has the ability to line up over the slot at the next level. He was a bit rusty with his footwork, but his ability to click and close on balls was tops among the Southís defensive backs.
Finally, today I committed a lot of time to watching USC linebackers Clay Matthews and Brian Cushing. Cushing has been a five-star recruit since he arrived at USC, but itís Matthews, who entered the season as a back-up, who might be the better overall prospect. I scouted USC three times this year (against Penn State, Ohio State and Oregon State), and each game I graded out Matthews as a better prospect. Overall, Cushing is a little more explosive off the edge and attacking down than Matthews. However, Matthews displays better body control and footwork in space as well as better overall technique and hand placement as a pass rusher. Matthews consistently is able to shed more blocks and has really done well for himself this week. By no means am I saying that Cushing is a bad prospect; he will certainly go in the top two rounds. But this is more of a plug for Mathews to show how far heís come since the beginning of the season.
Canít say enough about the performance of DT B.J. Raji. He is having a performance similar to former USC DT Sedrick Ellis a year ago. Raji has been dominant, consistently beating blockers with his combination of power and suddenness. He even flattened C Max Unger on one play, putting him on his back. Rajiís stock is at hot as ever, and he could be headed for a top-10 pick.
Western Michigan FS Louis Delmas has not only faired well in one-on-one drills so far, but heís making his presence felt over the middle in 11-on-11 drills. He laid out WR Brandon Gibson on one play, showing good explosion and instincts in the center fielder-type role. He has been by far the most impressive safety here, even more so than his more publicized teammate, FS William Moore.
Penn State WR Derrick Williams shook off a slow start Monday and put together the most impressive performance among receivers today. He did a great job not only threatening corners downfield but showed good suddenness breaking off routes and separating over the middle of the field. He also looked a lot more comfortable catching punts and exhibited the most explosion of any return man. Looks like the top receiver down on the North squad.
Still Need WorkÖ
Cincinnati CB Corey Smith was picked on at times today in man coverage. He showcased good awareness in space but lacks the burst to close on receivers. He struggled getting in and out of his break cleanly and was not as fluid in his backpedal as many scouts expected. You can tell he has some experience at FS because of his instincts and ball skills, but as a corner he is too easy to get behind and struggles out of his transition.
Notre Dame S David Bruton is a tall, high-cut defensive back whoís at his best near the line of scrimmage. He looked real stiff in practice today and struggled staying with TE Brandon Pettigrew and TE Connor Barwin in coverage. He lacks flexibility and really struggles getting in and out of his breaks with any kind of burst.
Iowa DT Mitch King weighed in at 6-1, 275 pounds yesterday and might be forced to make the transition to end. He got most of his reps inside today and struggled with the length and footwork of C Max Unger. King plays with a great motor, but he is short armed and lacks the power and length to disengage from blockers. He is the kind of guy who needs to beat linemen with his first step or he will lose the battle.
OLs Andy Levitre, Alex Mack and William Beatty have had strong showings the first two days. Levitre might have the best technique and hand placement of anyone here, while Mack showcases a powerful punch, good power and has been the only offensive lineman to hold his own with B.J. Raji. Beatty, on the other hand, is a very coordinated athlete with good hand placement and feet. He displayed an ability to re-direct in space and is catching the attention of scouts.
I got a chance to watch the tight end group work out today and was impressed with the power and technique of Brandon Pettigrew. He displayed an impressive punch and great drive through his blocks. He consistently drew praise from his coaching staff, and his ability to catch and block are unmatched at the TE position.
The running back group has been quiet to this point, but Oregon RB Jeremiah Johnson is starting to make a lot of noise. Johnson hits the hole with a good burst and showcases smooth footwork and body control in space. He is an instinctive runner and gets up speed as quickly as anyone here. His wiggle, vision and burst will force teams to find a way to get him on the field at the next level.
Ohio State WR Brian Robiskie isnít the flashiest of prospects, but he does all the little things well. He does struggle getting up to speed quickly but displayed an ability to shield defenders and pluck the ball away from his body. He recognizes coverages well and has become QB Nathan Brownís best friend. He isnít going to be a star at the next level but looks like someone who can make a living as a solid possession-type receiver.
Speaking of Nathan Brown, the Central Arkansas quarterback had a slow start to the day, just like the other two North quarterbacks, but he finished with a strong showing during 11 on 11. He was very poised in the pocket and was the only North quarterback who displayed the accuracy and zip to throw the deep out route through the howling wind. He has yet to have any balls knocked down from the pocket, which is a good sign for him because scouts are concerned about his lack of size.
Although I cannot post a link, but it's a video from Todd McShay reporting that Harrell is sucking it up at the senior bowl. Claiming he is unable to read coverages while dropping back, I imagine because he didn't have to do it in college. He's saying he could now slip until the 5th or 6th round.
The video is on ESPN, under the Senior Bowl Buzz on the front page.
I think people don't realize having a great WR helps QB make look better than they are. I'm 45 mins from Fresno but I remember David Carr having Bernard Berrian to throw to. Standout WR make that much difference for "good" QB's but harder to evaluate since they tend to be skeward much more than any other postion because of the talent around them. Anyone else remember Jimmy Clausen coming out of HS...but if I remember right his RB teamatee was outstanding as well.